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Up to 73 are believed dead and hundreds injured in Cameroon train crash

Up to 73 are believed dead and hundreds injured in Cameroon train crash
One passenger escapes a derailed car through a window as others make their way from the site of a train crash in Eseka, Cameroon, on Oct. 21, 2016. (AFP / Getty Images)

The death toll from an overloaded train that derailed in Cameroon has risen, rescue workers and hospital staff said Saturday, estimating that at least 73 people had been killed.

Bodies were strewn along the tracks as workers continued looking for others injured and dead in Friday's crash.

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Officials have put the death toll at 53 but said it will climb as they raced to transport more than 600 injured people to hospitals in the capital, Yaounde, and the port city where the train was going, Douala.

The rescue workers and medical staff spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the press about the issue.

The train carried about 1,300 passengers, instead of its capacity of 600. The passenger load was higher because a road had collapsed due to landslides following heavy rains between Yaounde and Douala.

The 30-year-old railway line and train could not carry the load, officials told state radio.

President Paul Biya ordered the evacuation of the injured to the country's two main cities because Eseka's hospital was overwhelmed, with only about 60 beds, said transport minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo'o.

"I am calling on everyone to double efforts to save the lives of the injured," Ngo'o said.

One of those injured died as he arrived in Douala, and "we are doing everything possible to save the lives of the close to 200 victims sent to Douala," said Gov. Ivaha Diboua Dieudonne of the western Littoral region.

The circumstances that led to the accident will be investigated, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said.

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